Casa Vicens, from private housing to UNESCO heritage
Casa Vicens was built as a summer home between 1883 and 1885 1 ; it was designed by the 31 -year-old Gaudí for Manel Vicens i Montaner (1836-1895), a broker-dealer.
The forms of which Casa Vicens is composed are very different from those we are accustomed to seeing in other buildings designed by Gaudí. Casa Vicens is considered to be example of what is referred to among the various stages of Antoní Gaudí’s architectural career as his orientalist period (1883-1888).
Antoni Gaudí designed a summer house divided into four levels: the basement for storage; the ground floor to house the living room, dining room and kitchen; the first floor, which was meant for the bedrooms; and the top floor for the servants. At first the house only had three façades since it was attached to the neighbouring construction on the northeast side; the southwest served as the main façade open to the extensive gardens surrounding the house.
This orientation guaranteed sunlight and favourable climatic conditions during the different seasons of the year. The graffito inscriptions on the frieze of the gallery that opens onto the garden, which refer to each of the house’s orientations, attest to the deliberateness of this orientation.
The ground-floor gallery was one of the most important spaces in the construction. It was envisioned as a semi-open space to connect the indoors with the outdoors, and it allowed the nature in the garden to visually enter the living/dining room. The garden featured a large waterfall nestled within a parabolic arch which helped to cool off the house’s gallery, along with a second circular fountain near the street.
One of the most significant changes took place in 1925, when the summer home was enlarged by the Jover family, the owners of the house since 1899, to make it their first residence. The reform project was designed by Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez (1888-1962), an architect who was a friend of Gaudí, and it had Gaudí’s approval. At that time, Casa Vicens went from being a single-family dwelling to housing three homes, one per floor. The necessary construction of a new staircase to reach all three floors meant the removal of Gaudí’s original staircase. The widening of Carrer de Les Carolines, which took place at the same time as the enlargement of the house, also led to a significant change in the entrance to the house.
With this enlargement, the estate almost doubled in size. Since the garden was also simultaneously expanded to reach the edge of what is today carrer Príncep d’Astúries, the Casa Vincens estate had reached its peak size.
Between 1935 and 1964, the house underwent several further changes until reaching the state in which we find it today.
In 1993, according to the provisions of Law 9/1993 dated 30 September 1993 on the Catalan Cultural Heritage, Casa Vicens in Barcelona is considered an Asset of National Cultural Interest (abbreviated BCIN in Catalan) in the category of historical monument.
In 2005 Casa Vicens is declared a World Human Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the crypt in Colònia Güell, Casa Batlló and the Nativity façade and crypt of the Sagrada Família.
In 2007 Casa Vicens is put up for sale and in 2014MoraBanc purchases Casa Vicens with the goal of opening it up to public visits.
The rehabilitation of the house started on 2015 and the opening of the house as a cultural space is planned for this Autumn 2017.
La cúpula de Casa Vicens des d’una perspectiva que difícilment podrem fotografiar quan s’acabin les obres . Casa Vicens’ dome from a perspective that we won’t be able to see once the restoration is complete . La cúpula de Casa Vicens desde una perspectiva que difícilmente podremos fotografiar cuando se acaben las obras